Our guest today is Rich Fernandez, the CEO of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, originated at Google and now an independent nonprofit leadership institute. In this episode, he shares with us his personal journey and quest for living an inspired life, why Bhutan the happiest nation on the planet hired Rich and his team and he also shares practical tips on how you can live an inspired life and find your calling.

The Beginning

“I remember going very early in the morning to church a couple of times a week to just sit in the silence. And that silence was really refreshing and nourishing for me.”

Mindfulness was always a part of Rich’s life. He was raised in a Catholic household and he realized at a very young age that sitting in silence in an empty church was very grounding for him. Later on, he came to know that it was a form of meditation.

In his professional journey, Rich tried many things. He started as a psychologist, then worked in financial services at several companies, including eBay and Google.

According to Rich, there is a big difference between a job, a career, and a calling. A job is something you do to pay the bills, a career is where you choose a field of endeavor and progressively build your skills, while a calling is when you listen to the inspiration that life itself gives you and you follow it. Rich went through all of these 3 stages.

Rich´s Quest For Living An Inspired Life

“My vision for my life is full integration of consciousness in all domains of life.”

His calling found him around 2006/7 while working at Ebay. His colleagues, customers, and stakeholders were very stressed out because of the global financial crisis. During this time, Rich noticed that he stayed grounded and calm, which did not stay unnoticed by his colleagues. His colleagues started to ask him to share his practices and he started to offer mindfulness courses, which became very popular. 

He subsequently joined Google as Director of Executive Education and People Development. 

When Rich joined Google, he shared an office with one of Google's early employees, Chade-Meng Tan, who had developed an internal training course for Google´s engineers called Search Inside Yourself (SIYLI). It is a secular, neuroscience-based mindfulness and emotional intelligence curriculum and was the most successful training within Google. Rich became one of the first teachers of the curriculum. 

During a meditation retreat, Rich had an insight, that led to him resigning from Google and founding Wisdom Labs an organization that introduces mindfulness to organisations. 

He was subsequently hired back into SIYLI as the CEO. Today, SIYLI is an independent nonprofit leadership institute, that operates in over 62 countries, offering mindfulness & emotional intelligence training in businesses, education, nonprofit, healthcare and government including the ministry of education of Bhutan. The curriculum has been taught to over 100.000 people globally.

Rich’s Advice On How To Move From A Career To Your Calling

  • It can take years and it is not always smooth sailing, so be patient with yourself.

  • Continuously pay attention and be aware of how you are feeling and what gives you satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Journal regularly.

  • Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need it.

  • Have tools and practices to help you navigate.

  • Observe your feelings and what arises in you.

  • Visualize the ideal future for you and try to be grateful as if it had already happened, because ideas have power.

How To Live An Inspired Life?

“Within that space of stillness and quiet the music arises. They say music is the space between the notes. So cultivate the space between the notes, and see what arises.”

According to Rich, the most important thing in cultivating awareness, purpose, and meaning is to enjoy the process. We have to find what truly gives us joy and what feels really alive to us and let that be our guide when searching for fulfillment and success.

He also advises making time for stillness, being quiet and not doing anything. In addition he encourages you to be kind and patient with yourself because your journey and life are precious. 

Palma’s Reflection On Joy And Aliveness 

It can sometimes be difficult to know what brings you joy, especially if you have been in a stuck place for a while. So this week we invite you to reflect on joy and aliveness. 

Make a list of 25 things or activities that bring you joy or make you feel alive.

One of the best pointers for joy is curiosity. So if you find it hard to find 25 things, pick things that you are curious about and write them down. This means for example if you would have some free time, or a free weekend what would you love to do.

After writing down all the 25 things, see if you could combine some of them to maximize aliveness. 

Then pick 1-3 of these activities and spend a little bit of time each day over the coming week trying them out. 

Then see what arises!

About our Guests, Rich Fernandez

Rich Fernandez, Ph.D. is CEO of theSearch Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, a non-profit educational institute developed at Google and now operating independently  with a mission of making mindfulness and emotional intelligence skills practical and accessible to communities and organizations around the world. Rich is also a co-founder ofWisdom Labs and he was previously the director of executive education and people development at Google. Rich received his PhD from Columbia University with a focus on organizational psychology. He is an author and frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and Mindful Magazine, a neuroscience enthusiast, and a long-time mindfulness practitioner and teacher. Rich is currently writing his first book Living An Inspired Life. 

A special thanks to Rich Fernandez for taking the time to share his inspiring story with us.

Resources Mentioned In The Show:


Continue Your Journey

Now it is time to find your own unique path. We can help you to connect with your innate wisdom and create an inspiring vision for a deeply fulfilling and meaningful life. Apply for a discovery session on our website,palmamichel.com.

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Thank You

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